Abbas Aide Suggests Option Of Kosovo-Like Declaration

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — At least one top official says Palestinians should follow Kosovo’s example and unilaterally declare independence if peace talks with Israel fail, but the Palestinian president says that’s premature.

President Mahmoud Abbas pledges to keep negotiating until the end of the year.

The mixed messages came a day after the latest meeting between Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

The two men formally relaunched peace talks at a U.S.-hosted summit in Maryland last November. While the sides meet regularly, Palestinian officials have complained the talks are moving too slowly.

They say President Bush’s goal of brokering a peace treaty in 2008 is not realistic.

The official who suggested the Kosovo-like declaration also says the Palestinians’ “first option” is success in the negotiations, but other options should be considered.